How did Adii Pienaar launch Conversio and generate $2M in revenue in 2 years?

What if you could build on your customer relationships simply by offering more attractive and functional email receipts?

Adii Pienaar is the founder of Conversio which is an all-in-one marketing dashboard for eCommerce stores.

Conversio helps eCommerce sites improve their relationships with customers through improved marketing techniques and functional email receipts.

Adii Pienaar

Adii Pienaar


Adii Pienaar is the founder of Conversio which is an all-in-one marketing dashboard for eCommerce stores.


Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey, everyone. My name is Andrew Warner, I’m the founder of Mixergy where I talk to entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses and we get in depth because we have an audience of real entrepreneurs listening. Not wannabes, not people who are just looking for entertainment, but people who want the details. And that’s what Mixergy is about and has always been about.

Well, let me ask you something. As not just an entrepreneur, but as a consumer, an online customer, have you ever bought anything and gotten a receipt sent to you? Wait. “Gotten a receipt,” I paused it. Of course, you buy something and get a receipt. Have you ever bought something online and gotten a receipt via e-mail? And the answer to that is “of course,” we all have.

Well, today’s guest had a realization. We’re all getting those e-mail receipts, and we all open them. And when we do, we’ve kind of proven that we’re customers. So why is it that those receipts are so crappy looking and don’t take advantage of the fact that we have a relationship with the company that sent it to us? Wouldn’t it be better if those receipts actually look nice? How about if they were more functional? If they were, wouldn’t that actually increase sales for the company that sent it to us?

Well, Adii Pienaar is the founder of Conversio. He started out making software that made those receipts look better, be more functional, and that’s what established his company. And then he said, “You know what? There are other tools like that, that e-commerce sites could use to help them grow their sales. That’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to create a company that does that.” That business is Conversio. I invited him here for the third time on Mixergy to talk about how he built this business up and how he’s growing it and figuring out what new products to create for his customers.

This interview is sponsored by two great companies. You guys know them by now. It’s a company that will host your website right. It’s called HostGator. And number two, the company that will help you hire your next great developer, Toptal.

Adii, good to have you back.

Adii: It’s good to be here, Andrew.

Andrew: You know what? I actually wrote out the intro for this, and that’s where I screwed up. I was both trying to read the intro perfectly and at the same time trying to just kind of riff. And, ew, I got to pick one or the other. Hey, let me go back on script for a moment and just ask you about your revenue. Where are you with revenue right now? How much?

Adii: How much? You’re the numbers guy, Andrew. So we’re about $2 million ARR at the moment. And that’s about two years since we started charging. So yeah.

Andrew: Impressive. And you’ve been on here twice, as I said before. The first one was to talk about WooThemes.

Adii: The fourth time, by the way.

Andrew: This is your fourth time here?

Adii: This is my fourth time.

Andrew: Whoa, all right. I don’t remember that third one, but I do know that I used to have you on a lot, because you were someone who didn’t just build … Oh, I know what it was. The first time was about building WooThemes, the second time was about the book that you created, and the third time was about this company that you closed down. Let’s just do a quick catch-up here. WooThemes started out as Themes for WordPress, moved into WooCommerce, which is the platform for selling on WordPress. Before it did that, you left the company after it became this big business. It sold to Automattic. You didn’t get the benefit from the sale, right, because you already cashed out. No?

Adii: I had cashed out.

Andrew: And so how did you do from the sale? And you’re smiling, I feel like you lost out because WooCommerce became bigger than any themes business ever could have been, right?

Adii: Yeah. So I think a point of clarification there. So when I had left, so I left WooThemes end of 2013. And at that stage WooCommerce, I want to say, was two, two and a half years old. So I was as least there, kind of my exit did at least reflect part of that initial WooCommerce growth. And WooCommerce did change the business. I think one of the things that hasn’t been said often enough is WooCommerce, when we started building it, changed our business so significantly that within a year it became 90% of our revenue.

Andrew: Oh really?

Adii: That’s how significant it was.

Andrew: I see, okay. So you got to see the growth of it before you left, okay.

Adii: Exactly. So I got a nice bit of that. I don’t know what the eventual deal was with Automattic. I don’t know the terms. I know that apparently the numbers that were reported online, they aren’t correct. And whether that means more or less. But I got a fair price. And I think one can always have regret, but I think the most important thing for me is three years down the line I am in a new business. I’m happy. We’re doing well. And I think kind of where we’re at, if I had to kind of sell this business today, that’s good money and good value nonetheless.

Andrew: Did you become a millionaire from your exit of WooThemes/WooCommerce?

Adii: Yes.

Andrew: You did? Okay.

Adii: Well, technically I was one before.

Andrew: I see. Okay. All right, so you did well.

Adii: Yeah. And that’s not even a brag or a humble brag, but yes. Kind of net asset value more than a million dollars. That’s the definition of a millionaire, right?

Andrew: And then you started this other business, which was an education company. And I remember when I interviewed you about it you told me it was going well. You were actually getting customers, but you found yourself blowing up at people at random questions. Someone would ask you about a color of a site, and you’d just get frustrated. What was going on in your head at the time there?

Adii: Yeah. So mostly [inaudible 00:05:33] I think in hindsight I’ve learned a lot. But at that stage I basically closed that business about a month before my deal with WooThemes closed. And that deal took about four or five months to negotiate, and then at that stage Magnus and Mark, my cofounders within Woo, I wouldn’t say we weren’t on speaking terms, but we weren’t as friendly as we were before I had decided to exit. That was tough. And we’ve since kind of reconnected.

Andrew: Why is that?

Adii: I think it’s easier to work together when there’s some kind of momentum in a certain direction. But then as soon as one person kind of stands up and says, “You know what? I want something completely different to you guys,” then that changes the dynamic. And then I think, for me at least, I know now I did many things because I was defensive and I felt that I needed to protect my value and there was fear involved.

Andrew: What do you mean? What did you do to protect your value, and what were the different directions?

Adii: So a good example was I didn’t get an all-cash buyout, right? There was payment terms. And my protection in that regard was that the company would stick to some kind of agreed upon budget beforehand. So as soon as I then kind of see on a monthly basis that, “Jeez, these guys are increasing expenditure, which means my payouts are less, that payment term becomes longer.” It’s not just kind of the alarm in my head, it wasn’t just, “I’m going to wait a couple of months longer to be paid out.” It’s like, “Are these guys going to screw things up and not pay me out?”

Andrew: Ah, okay.

Adii: So it’s completely fear-based, and I think, for me at least at the time as well, kind of Adii, Jr., he was two years old at the time. So I also felt like, “Jeez, I’m his dad. This is our livelihood. I need to protect this.”

Andrew: Yeah.

Adii: Because at that stage this was the only thing. I didn’t have a corporate career. I didn’t have any savings prior to WooThemes. All of my savings, everything on paper was within WooThemes. Right? So, as I said, I became totally protectionist and fearful about things.

Andrew: I get that. Ever since my second child I wake up in the middle of the night going, “I’m going to screw this up for them.” Something that I’m doing now could potentially lead to a horrible life for them. And it’s financial, too, in a way that my life didn’t depend so much on money.

So why did you leave? Now that we’ve got some distance, why not stick around? You were the face of the company. I feel like something was going on that we couldn’t talk about back then.

Adii: Oh, [inaudible 00:08:10] We had different ideas of what we wanted to do next. I think Mag and Mark, they were more happy with the status quo and more in a kind of mindset of maintenance. Whereas WooThemes at that stage, it was about seven years for me working on it, and I had that entrepreneurial itch. And I think the context for me, as well, is I naturally gravitate to starting things and doing things initially. That’s where I get my excitement from. And as soon as businesses get to a point where it’s more incremental and it’s more kind of process-driven, there’s less intuition, like, “Where do we eke out this 0.1% kind of increase?” That gets boring, right? For me, at least, that’s not me.

Andrew: I see.

Adii: So at the time I wanted to do something kind of significant. And we wanted to move into a space, and I think Automattic are going to do this with WooCommerce soon and maybe you should get me on in a couple of months’ time if they do that. But basically that’s what I wanted to do back then, and Mag and Mark didn’t feel it was a good time.

Andrew: What do you think Automattic is probably going to do that you wanted to do back then?

Adii: The big idea I had proposed back then WooCommerce-related … I won’t reveal too much. I wouldn’t want to compromise kind of what Automattic are doing next. But the idea that I had proposed back then, as I said, Mag and Mark weren’t that keen at the time. And it would have been risky for us, as well.

Andrew: I see, okay. And, by the way, I went to WooThemes recently, just now, and it’s done, it just redirects you to WooCommerce. That’s how much it engulfed the company. That’s how big it got.

All right, so I see that. I always respected how you came on here after PublicBeta, the next business you started, closed down and you said, “Hey, here’s what happened.” Why don’t you just do a touch on that, and then get into this new business that you created and talk about how it’s grown so far so fast? But going back in time, if you were to analyze what was going on in your head that got you to a point where you weren’t being the right leader, where you were blowing up where you shouldn’t have, what was your mindset then that got you there?

Adii: What, to a point where I realized that I was being a bad leader?

Andrew: Uh-huh. Was it just exhaustion? Were you feeling like, “Hey, I ran this big company where I was in rhythm and now I’m out of rhythm”? Was it something else?

Adii: Yeah, I was just tired. I was mentally and physically tired and to the point where I couldn’t even enjoy the things that I was enjoying, that I would generally enjoy, which is working on new things, speaking to customers, seeing a new sale come through. Those are all things that kind of maybe they’re small in an isolated way, but even those things couldn’t be that up anymore. So it was always like I’m just feeling the downs of being an entrepreneur at this stage. Yeah, I was just tired.

Andrew: Okay, all right. And then you saw that blog post at Vero’s blog about how e-mail receipts should be hacked, they’re ugly, they should be more functional. And you said, “I’m going to start a company around that.” You got someone to build this minimum viable product so you can test it. Who built it for you?

Adii: We outsourced it. We used Crew. I think Crew pivoted slightly to Unsplash. It was a kind of side project. But I think Crew still exists. MetaLab bought the platform recently, found the freelancing agency via that. And we bought a very, very crude MVP initially on top of Stripe, which we had some interest in. It was interesting, because we could see that we would send the receipts for other SaaS companies at that stage. That was what the initial idea was. And we could see that we got the engagement on kind of open and click rates in e-mails, which were kind of validating this idea that we had, an idea that the article proposed. But we just couldn’t kind of get them to do something after that. But that kind of interest was enough so after that [inaudible 00:12:05] I actually hired a team full-time.

Andrew: But the first thing was they built it on, it was Crew, that’s the name of the development shop that did it. And they’re not up and running anymore, right?

Adii: Crew is the platform to connect people like myself. They’re still there, but kind of they sold that part of the company and pivoted to Unsplash, which is stock photography.

Andrew: I see.

Adii: So what Crew does is just, it’s a multiplexer. It vets the devs or designers on one side.

Andrew: Similar to one of my sponsors, so I get that. So you just went to them and you said, “Hey, find me developers.” They found you developers. The developers built you a minimum viable product that sat on Stripe, because Stripe is so easy to work with, and you said, “Look, a lot of people have Stripe. All they have to do is plug into this, I’ll send out receipts for them.” You were starting to say that the first version didn’t work out as well as you imagined, but it was enough to show? What was the problem with the first version?

Adii: Yeah, so we could basically get people to open the receipts, firstly, which, again, was one metric, the open rates. And they would click on things, so the test we ran was to … So, as I said, it was for SaaS companies, and we would upsell annual pricing, which is kind of a very prevalent tactic generally. So we could see they would click on the link to actually check this offer out, “Get two months for free if you upgrade to annual,” but they never pulled through. So there was never that ultimate conversion, which would have been the ultimate value of the platform, or that’s how kind of they gauge that.

Andrew: I see. Because you initially were working with clients who had monthly products that were also available on an annual basis, and so that’s who you were sending receipts to. How did you get your first customers for this?

Adii: A friend.

Andrew: You just reached out to friends and said, “Hey, I’ve got this new idea. What do you say?”

Adii: Exactly.

Andrew: Okay, all right. And so you got people to open it up. What was the problem that you think kept people from actually upgrading on that receipt?

Adii: I don’t know. Conversio now is my first recurring revenue business, as well. With WooThemes our model was completely different. So I think, just knowing what I know now, like upgrading to annual pricing, for example, it’s a great thing, but it generally has a very low conversion rate regardless of how you promote it. So that’s probably part of it.

Andrew: I didn’t know that, okay.

Adii: Yeah, yeah. It’s not done fantastically for us. I don’t have much weight on it.

Andrew: Okay.

Adii: I don’t think it’s fantastic. Especially, I think, if you have smaller customers, earlier stage, they’re more likely then to kind of commit to an annual fee and cash flow, etc. So I think that’s that. And the other thing is if you’re getting the same receipt with the same offer month over month, I would assume you have the same kind of fatigue or level of ad-blindness to it. So yeah.

Andrew: But then with that knowledge why pursue a second version? Why not say, “Hey, you know what? It turns out that receipts are opened, but people don’t want to do any more transactions. Let’s try a different idea”? What was it about it that got you to continue?

And, by the way, I’m standing at a stand-up desk. I’m going to hit the down on the desk and sit down so that we can continue to talk. Speaking of getting a little tired here. Go ahead.

Adii: So Amazon, basically. I think what we did know is even though we had very few metrics to point to ourselves, like internal data for why receipts work, we knew that the likes of Amazon had been, for ages, including some kind of upsell or marketing within their e-mail receipts going to customers. So that was always in the back of my mind. And I think in that also I kind of made the jump where I felt that I would be able to leverage my experience and connections within the WooCommerce ecosystem to build a product for e-commerce stores, which is what we had done before.

Andrew: So the validation wasn’t positive. It didn’t give you positive results. But your research, your understanding of this market made you say, “You know what? I think there’s something here anyway.”

Adii: Yeah. There was something there. But if I was being very, very strict and very risk-averse in terms of getting validation before building something and before having invested in something, I should not have done this. But there was definitely that kind of little jump in kind of glossing over the minor details there.

Andrew: You know what? You’re right. I’m looking up Amazon receipts right now and you’re right, they do do that. I see here something for a light that I bought and they say, “Hey, you also bought these bumpers recently. Do you want to buy other ones?,” or, “People who looked at this also bought this other stuff.” I see, okay.

And so you said there’s something here, and so you decided, “I’m going to build this thing from scratch, this time hire different group of people.” What were you going to change about the software when you were going to rebuild it?

Adii: So we eventually changed quite a bit, but fundamentally the integration would need to work differently. So we switched from the Stripe integration, which was directly kind of payment [inaudible 00:16:57], to actually integrating with WooCommerce first, which meant we, just on a receipt level, the data came through differently. Instead of being kind of payments up, we needed to look from the kind of top-down from the order in, basically.

Andrew: I see.

Adii: And build that customer data around that, which was slightly different. So…

Andrew: All right, let’s…

Adii: Yeah.

Andrew: Oh, sorry. Oh, go finish that thought, sorry.

Adii: No. And then I think the best thing in that, again, you would think, second company, I should know these things. My devs at that stage, they were full-time hires. They actually refactored a bunch of what we’d built for the MVP, and I was like, “Guys, we need to shift this. Time is of the essence.” And they said, “Adii, you’ll thank us eventually.” And I did thank them eventually. Like a year down the line when our volume skyrocketed, we didn’t have to refactor code again. So in a very critical kind of point in our lifetime we actually didn’t have to refactor everything. But that’s essentially what we changed with our kind of second version.

Andrew: All right, let me take a moment and talk about my sponsor. And actually that’s a really good point. Good developers will listen to what you’re saying, and then still make the case for why you’re wrong. And if they are right, they can persuade you and change the direction of your company.

Which is why when Toptal asked me to sponsor, I wanted to make sure that they weren’t just sending people. And Toptal, by the way, is a marketplace of developers, they screen every developer obsessively, they only allow the top 3% in the marketplace. And when they said, “This is our obsession. If you’re people lower prices, we’re not going to be the right company for them. But if they want these top of the top developers, that’s our focus.” And your example right there is the reason why so many companies are willing to pay a little bit more and hire the best of the best developers. They will think down the line, they will remember what they’ve experienced in the past, and they will bring that experience to help you understand how you should be creating your software and building your company.

And so if anyone out there is looking to hire developers, go check out Toptal. They are a marketplace of the best developers on the planet. They obsess on their screening process. And if you’re interested in hiring, and I always say that they’re a little more expensive, but they’re not nearly as expensive as many people think they are, because just like Adii’s company, people who work at Toptal are all over the world. You do not have to be in an office here in San Francisco to work at Toptal. You can be wherever you like to work, maybe that’s a co-working space, maybe that’s frankly from home, wherever it is, and still be a Toptal developer and be part of their network.

So if you’re out there, guys, and you want to hire the best of the best developers or just have a conversation with Toptal about whether they’re the right fit for you, I urge you to check out the special URL they set up for us where you’re going to get 80 hours of Toptal developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours, in addition to a no-risk trial period of up to two weeks. The URL is Toptal, that’s “top” as in top of your head, “tal” as in talent, T-O-P-T-A-L.

All right, coming back to this story, Adii. Why not Stripe? Stripe is so flexible. Everyone seems to be using it. Why didn’t that work for you guys? Why did you have to move away?

Adii: Well, so I think it was just kind of with Stripe … So if you consider the bulk of the companies that integrate Stripe directly are other software as a service companies, right? And I don’t think that use case was perfect. Whereas, yes, you could use Stripe with a WooCommerce store, but then WooCommerce is a much better layer essentially for us to interact with because it’s much wider in the data, even more structured and more rich.

So I think that it’s less of kind of about Stripe in that sense and more about the focus, ultimately. And the customer changed, right? From other software as a service companies sending mostly B2B stuff to mostly kind of retail and commerce in a kind of B2C environment. So I think that was the fundamental change.

Andrew: Do you have an example of one of the early customers when you shifted to WooCommerce?

Adii: Yes. Our very first customer, a friend of mine called Nic Harry. Local guy who started off making funky socks and now a kind of premium menswear brand. And he’s still a customer today, paying customer as well. He refuses to take my offer for a free account.

Andrew: I see. All right, and so I get the shift away from it. At what point did you start to see some real revenue come in? Not for yourself, but for your users.

Adii: So it took us about two or three months. So if you consider the first month that we launched, so this is November 2014. So the first month we launched we sent a total of 300 receipts. So my personal mailing list is 2,000 people, right? So when I send them a single newsletter, I send more e-mails than we did in the first month. And then the second month we sent 1,000 receipts, and I think the month after we had 10,000, so in month three. And it was only at that stage where I think we really started … I think in month two we started seeing some conversions, but it was only in that third month where kind of the volume was significant enough and that we could see and help, work with other customers to try a few different things to figure out what was going to work and what wasn’t going to work.

Andrew: I feel like one of the challenges with bottom of the funnel software is, yes, people value you more because you’re directly connected to the customer. And if you increase sales by a small percentage, you’re worth something to them and they could give a share of whatever value you’re giving them. The problem with it though is that you don’t get that many interactions. Like you said, 300 receipts is not even enough for your clients to do any A/B testing, let alone for you guys to test the features you give them to allow them to test, right?

Adii: Yeah. I think the most interesting thing there was my history with WooThemes, for example, was purely bootstrapped. So I also went into this business, “We’re going to bootstrap. We’re going to charge from day one.” And then within a week we realized we’re not going to get that feedback loop going quickly enough in terms of actual product, that actually charging for this product, even with a free trial, was going to cause too much friction. So we removed that and kind of decided to go with the free app and big, big freemium model, which also meant that we kicked that can down the road of, “Well, we might not be able to bootstrap this. We might have to take on funding, and we will need to find other ways of monetizing,” etc., etc.

So yeah, totally, that was a big, significant challenge for us.

Andrew: I see. And you’re saying freemium was one of the ways that you solved it. By making this free you got more people to use it. By having more people use it you could keep experimenting and seeing if you could increase results for everybody on your platform.

Adii: Exactly.

Andrew: Okay.

Adii: Today our receipt technology is still free today. Anyone can use the receipts. It’s totally free.

Andrew: Oh really.

Adii: That’s the freemium part. Yeah.

Andrew: But I can’t use it if I’m just using Stripe, can I? I don’t use WooCommerce.

Adii: We have a Stripe Relay API.

Andrew: I saw that on your site. What is Stripe Relay?

Adii: So Relay, it’s not just a subscription or the standard subscription API, which I will assume is like what [inaudible 00:24:21] users use. But I think [inaudible 00:24:23] on the Relay API. And it’s basically product and order data in Stripe, as well. So on top of the transactional data which they’ve always had, i.e. charge/payment invoice, you would also have kind of [inaudible 00:24:38] for products and actual order data. Yeah.

Andrew: I see, okay. Yeah, we definitely would not be able to use it. I’m looking at it. We don’t use that. The first version of your software was Stripe only, as you said, but you wanted to also keep it simple from a user point of view. You told our producer, “We only had three screens.” What were the three screens that you limited yourself to?

Adii: We had a dashboard, so that showed you your metrics. We had the actual, I say it’s a template designer, but it wasn’t. You couldn’t do any drag and dropping and stuff. It literally had a bunch of text boxes. And I think at that stage you could only have one marketing module, and you literally had a drop-down box of, “Do you want it at the top of the bottom?” And the third one was just a separate page to actual control that marketing module. So on the third page you would actually say, “Well, this is what I want to include in that module.”

Andrew: Oh, okay. I like that, actually. That makes a lot of sense. All right, so I see first version. I see the second version. I see how you started out with Stripe. You shifted over to WooCommerce. I see why you weren’t able to keep bootstrapping this. You then reached out to investors. I looked at your list of investors. They are phenomenal people. In the commerce bootstrap world can you mention some of the people who invested in your business?

Adii: Yeah, so it’s some of the most well-known guys. Matt Mullenweg, Automattic. Joel Gascoigne, Buffer. Vinny Lingham, who his new … I’m not a cryptocurrency guy, so I don’t understand these things. But his new coin thing just launched, and their ICO, I think is what it’s called, raised $33 million dollars. So Vinny is an investor. Andrew Wilkinson, MetaLab. So we have a bunch of really awesome people.

Andrew: And these are all people you knew because you created WooThemes. which was huge at the time, WooCommerce, which got even bigger, and because you’re a guy who talks a lot. Right? You blog a lot about entrepreneurship. You wrote a book about entrepreneurship. You’re out there talking. I don’t think you leave South Africa where you’re recording this much, right? You don’t go to conferences, do you?

Adii: I stopped. Just flying to the U.S., for example, it’s just so far. I was there recently. I was in your hood recently for a Shopify conference. But whilst I love your country, it’s a hell of a long flight, so I don’t do it often.

Andrew: No, it’s the online presence that you have that really allows you to connect with so many people, right? So you raise money. It was what, half a million dollars, I think?

Adii: Yes.

Andrew: Half a million dollars. And that allowed you to do what?

Adii: So I think at that stage that gave us 12 to 18 months of runway. So at this stage we were ramping up nicely. I think we raised this off of our best month at the time was sending 30,000 receipts. And that started growing, really to me, exponentially at that stage. So we raised this in like April/May-ish 2015, and then in June of that year we released our first paid parts. And at that stage the strategy was for us to say that an e-mail receipt is if you kind of visualize all of the general kind of customer interactions that kind of customer has from the first time they visit a store to where they’re making multiple kind of purchases, we visualized that timeline essentially. Our strategy was going to be we were going to build these complimentary tools side by side to the receipts, and then we would monetize those. At the time we were called Receiptful, but we called that Receiptful Premium.

So we started doing that in June of that year, and then that started going really well. We had a very nice freemium base. I can’t remember how many users we had at the time.

Andrew: I’ve got your revenue from roughly that time in my notes here. It was roughly $30,000 in monthly recurring revenue. Before I continue with the next step in your investment versus bootstrapping evolution, let me ask you about the angels who supported the business. They’re smart people. Did any of them give you any advice that helped shape the direction of the product beyond the money? Did they give you any advice to help?

Adii: Yeah. So my biggest learning from the investors has actually been that most of them don’t get too deep into the product, but they challenge me on the fundamentals. The kind of stuff that if I was purely reporting to and accounting to myself, I would probably gloss over these things because many times it’s the harder conversations to have, or at least kind of the harder things to try and figure out or start figuring out. And they called me on that kind of stuff.

Andrew: For example?

Adii: So on churn. So one of the biggest challenges we’ve had was around churn. And I think, for me, kind of first-time recurring revenue, founder as well, everything I read about churn, again, it feels like, yes, I get the basics here. I don’t know how to make this work for us. And that’s one of the things, the only fund that invested in that seed round was a fund out of Poland called the Innovation Nest. And the partner there, Marcin, he’s been instrumental in helping me understand that a very simple thing like just the proper segmentation when I look at our churn is crucial. And when we originally got to the point where we did that, we realized if we just segment out our very smallest stores and customers from the churn rate, the rest of our churn is actually fantastic.

So looking at our global churn rate at that stage was causing this great anxiety and almost a misappropriation of our focus. Whereas we can probably accept now that smaller stores, in our space at least, they are more fickle. Many of them go out of business, hence why we also see a kind of more drastic churn rate compared to bigger stores.

Andrew: Oh, that’s really helpful.

Adii: Yeah.

Andrew: That’s incredibly helpful. But you know what I wonder when you say that is how would I even find out what my churn rate is based on customer size? There’s no tool that does that.

Adii: No. So we’re lucky in the sense that we have a data scientist on the team at least.

Andrew: And you had one early on, a data scientist who can go into your data and tell you? You did? Full-time?

Adii: Yes. So a part of what we did with the marketing module, so on the product side as well, is we have a product recommendation algorithm. And we have a trained data scientist that’s been on the team and mostly doing dev work as well. But our play in that sense has always been that we would like to get into kind of the machine learning stuff and bigger data stuff eventually. And we do little bits of it here and there, nothing significant, nothing that is kind of going to propel us …

Andrew: I got to just dive into this.

Adii: Yeah, go.

Andrew: Even if you have a data scientist, what data is he looking at that tells you I guess, you know, the size of your customers’ revenue because of where you sit in their transaction. So companies that aren’t doing that well are probably smaller companies or companies that aren’t sending that many receipts, got it, versus the big ones. All right. What else do you do with the data scientist? If you have a data scientist on staff, you need him to do more than just churn. What else was he doing?

Adii: Well, for the biggest part of his time, to all of our frustration, being a start-up and kind of lack of resources, but he’s been building features mostly, just like any other dev on the team.

Andrew: I see. So he’s a developer who happens to also be a data scientist, and so you pull him away from some code and you say, “Spend some time here.”

Adii: Yes.

Andrew: You know what? I wonder if Toptal has a data scientist who can just spend some hours going through all of our data and give me something like that. That would be really helpful.

Adii: And the great thing to do that way, as well, which would be great for you, is data science is very much like an exploration. Like you start looking somewhere, but it’s not like a dev that can sit down and you can give him like, “This is the thing I want built,” and he’ll tell you, “I’m going to need a month,” and he’ll build that thing. Data science is not an exact science until you stumble onto the thing that’s going to reveal the exactness thereof, right?

Andrew: That’s really helpful to know, because that actually frankly takes the pressure off me because I don’t know what they should look at. It’s not like I could say, “Go and see if bigger companies are better clients than younger ones,” because you didn’t do that. You just said, “Figure out what’s going on with our churn.” Got it. That’s really helpful to know. And it’s also helpful to see that a company your size would have a data scientist. Where I’ve seen it in past interviewees, but they have tons of people on staff, they don’t even know who’s in their company at that point.

Okay, so I see the benefit of understanding that, I see how you did with investors. You then said, “All right, I’m going to go and raise another round.” And what happened when you tried to do that?

Adii: I got told various different stories that essentially kind of came to a shifting of the goalpost, right? So we’re seeing good revenue growth at the time, and I can see that future where I break even in profitability, which means that kind of raising money is a moot point. But it felt like at that stage we’d raised this first round, which meant that that’s what you do, right? So you raise [inaudible 00:34:02] and you just go through the alphabet until you get to IPO.

And when I started to have these preliminary discussions about what the next round kind of should look like, what kind of metrics we should hit to raise it X or whatever, it felt like a bit of a game. For me being a bootstrapper, as well, I was like, “Guys, we’re not really”… I was getting different opinions, right? So it’s like, “Who should I trust?” And I eventually spoke to someone, a very well-respected investor. I think age played a part. I think kind of his experience was such that after-2000s kind of [inaudible 00:34:46] I don’t think that influenced him as much. And I literally said to him, I recall I said, “Is this a bit of a game?” And he said, “Adii, if you want to continue raising money, it’s all a game.” And that part of it I like. I loved raising the first round and getting yeses from investors, but I also didn’t want to play a game for the rest of my life, right? That wasn’t what I wanted.

So we actually decided at that stage that instead of raising it in another round, we would just kind of push really hard on revenue and be really frugal on the expense side to make sure that we get to profitability, and then we can chart the growth from there.

Andrew: You know what? So I went back and listened to our past interviews, and this seems to be a wrestling match inside you that you’ve had for a while. Right? You’re really good at bootstrapping, but you also have this sense that, “I want to get to the next level. And there’s this other game here, I should be there.” But it’s not fully you.

And I feel like, and you’re nodding as I say this, I feel like it’s partially because you’re not here in San Francisco and you’re not part of the conversations with these people. That I definitely see people who have much less going on than you who raise an absurd amount of money because they are at the racquetball court playing with someone who then introduces them to someone else, right? That kind of thing goes on a lot. Because they’re going home to the VC’s family and having dinner, this is the kind of stuff I’m now getting to see. They’re having dinner with the VC’s wife and making the VC’s wife feel comfortable with them, and that leads to something that leads to something else, and that’s not you. I don’t get the sense that you would enjoy doing that.

Adii: No. And you know what? For me the reason I was nodding, as well, I think there’s a part of me that recognizes that there’s always an artificial or a less wholesome way of going about these things. And [inaudible 00:36:37] and maybe this is just how I’m wired. We were growing insanely in that once we had hit 30K MR, to going to 100K MR. That was a really nice, smooth line through there, right? But we were still burning money and I couldn’t understand why month over month I was feeling anxious. Until I came to the realization that my anxiety wasn’t growth-related, it was the fact that we were still burning money.

Which meant it wasn’t the fact that we were not growing fast enough and we only had X amount of money in the bank. Because that’s what funding would have done, right? Funding would have given us another lump sum that we would just kind of ramp up expenses. But what I realized there was very simply, and almost in a very artificial way, that I would just extend my own anxiety, and that was just not what I wanted. And I’m not saying this is wrong, by the way. I’m not criticizing. All I’m acknowledging there is, I won’t swear, I called BS on any kind of…

Andrew: No, you can swear.

Adii: If there’s some kind of artificial deadline or milestone being set or requirement, I struggle with that. My wife now knows, for example, if she tells me all the kids in our son’s class is taking extra math lessons, we should do that. And she sense, because I’m smiling, and she’s like, “You’re going to tell me, ‘But why should our son do it?'” And I’m like, “Yes.” Because I’m not just going to conform. I’m not saying they’re wrong, I just want to know why. And I think I just believe in profitable, wholesome businesses. And if you can persuade me otherwise, then by all means I’m happy to do that. But raising our first round has shown that I think there is a “horse is a horse” approach here. But, yeah, I was aware of the risks going down those funding rounds.

Andrew: What was your big expense? You were spending more than $100,000 a month.

Adii: Salaries.

Andrew: It was just engineers?

Adii: People. Yeah, people.

Andrew: Okay. How many engineers were you able to get for $100,000 a month?

Adii: Well, so our product team is, I think, seven people. So we’re 14 full-time. So half of us, half of the team are technical and the other half are the kind of non-technical roles.

Andrew: What’s your burn now then? What’s your expense?

Adii: Well, probably, sheesh, because you’re asking me to convert, because we’re a UK company, which means it’s pounds sterling.

Andrew: You can say it in pounds and I’ll convert it.

Adii: I’m thinking off the top of my head, we’re probably on, I would say, £90,000.

Andrew: £90,000?

Adii: I think so.

Andrew: Okay. And that’s $115,000 a year. Okay. Excuse, a month. A month. I see. All right, let me do a second sponsorship message, and then come right back here and I want to find out about once you decided, “All right, we’re going to have to be profitable,” what you did to be profitable, why you changed your name. The company name, not your name. And what you did to figure out which new tools you should create for e-commerce stores, because you have a lot and it can kind of drive you nuts to try to add a lot and try to manage them all.

All right, but first the sponsor is a company called HostGator. And, Adii, as a guy who’s been on WordPress forever, you know HostGator. Right? You’ve seen them around forever.

Adii: Yeah.

Andrew: A lot of people who I’ve interviewed have told me that they started their first company on HostGator. Many have said, “Hey, I still am on HostGator,” or their personal blogs are still on HostGator because they still have SaaS businesses. And the reason is that HostGator makes things really inexpensive. So if you want to publish a new WordPress site, it’s one click to install. It costs less than $4 a month to maintain it. And then it’s robust. They give you everything from unlimited e-mail addresses to unmetered disk space, unmetered bandwidth, etc. And they have great tech support.

So a lot of people, as soon as they have an idea, will just go to HostGator, fire up a website, and just see where the idea goes for a weekend, maybe for an hour. Frankly that’s how Mixergy started. I said, “Do you know what? The thing that I’m running, which is software, is not that great. It’s not going well. How about if I create a blog to explain to people why they should like it?” I remember locking myself up in our second bedroom at my apartment in Santa Monica at the time. I installed WordPress. I installed a theme, the Revolution theme, to give you a sense of how far back that goes. And I just started playing with it. And then it became this thing that I could publish anything on and it kind of was fun. And then I said I’m going to publish interviews because I could publish anything, and it’s just a play area. And then the interviews became this passion project, so I kept going with that. And then I liked the idea of selling content, so I added another plug-in to WordPress that allowed me to sell content. Then it just kind of took off from there.

So if you’re out there and you have an idea or you just want an area to go play with, go check out HostGator. They have really inexpensive plans so that, as I said, for under $4 using this special URL you can get started. Or if you have a professional, big business that you need to accommodate a lot of traffic for, they will scale up with you. We launched something called Bot Academy, I knew I would have 1,000 people hitting my website within minutes of each other. Hundreds of people coming into a single webinar. We had like 700 people coming to a webinar, that means they’re all logging in within 10 minutes. My HostGator site needed to power that and be bulletproof. And so I called them up and I scaled up my hosting package.

So whether you want to start small or scale up, go check out HostGator. The URL where you’ll get that low price is,

By the way, Adii, is it kind of awkward that I keep standing up and sitting down?

Adii: It doesn’t strike me.

Andrew: Good. You know what? I’ll tell you I booked 20 interviews for this week, maybe even more, because we launched that new business and I needed to focus on it and I got behind with my interviews, and we were taking way too long to schedule people. So I said to my assistant, “Find a week, book me. I could do anything, I’ve got the stamina for it.” And what I’m finding is the biggest challenge is just being able to sit or stand for a long time. If I go from sit to stand, I’m great. But if I have to push myself to sit for a long time or stand for a long time, things hurt. But, other than that, my research is getting better. The interviews are getting better. The intros, as you saw, could use a little bit more work. Decide, Andrew, read or riff, but don’t do both.

All right, let’s come back to the name change. You changed the name because you were finding what?

Adii: So we found so many of our customers at this stage … So just as context. So at this stage we have four tools beyond the receipts.

Andrew: Today?

Adii: Well, today we have eight core tools.

Andrew: Eight? But when you switched you had four extra tools.

Adii: I think there were four extra at the time. And what we basically found, and the context as well as we mentioned earlier, is we upsold receipts for free, upsold the rest as receipts for premium. So we would literally get people telling us, people who’d been massively successful using receipts and not paying us a cent, and then they would tell us, “We didn’t know you guys did anything else except for receipts.” And we’re like, “It’s there and all of our marketing is around this.”

But we realized the name, even though we had grown very kind of attached to it and we loved the name, but it was always going to be limiting. It was a very literal name in the sense it was a play on the receipts that we started sending. And in that sense it was shortsighted. We launched the company. The idea was only to do receipts initially. But we changed the name to help us basically go into the next couple of years of our life and be more representative of what we’re doing at the moment.

Andrew: Yeah, and you did a great blog post about it where you talked about why you have to break this. And one of the things that I like about you is that you are so public with your story. I forget the phrase that you have here. I’ve got it here in my notes. There it is, “Do things, tell others.” That’s one of your mantras. And I think that’s partially why it was so hard for you to stick with a name like Receiptful when you expanded beyond. We all knew you as the guy who saw a problem with receipts and was starting to fix it, and the word spreads with you. And so now the word sticks to you, too, and that makes it harder.

I see how you were starting to do that. You told me before we started the interview that, “Look, one of the things that I wanted to stick with was this idea that we have to have a culture, a vision, set of values, and we have to stick to that. I think now is a good time for us to talk about it.” What do you mean by that, and how does that shape the way you run your business?

Adii: Yeah. So the culture at WooThemes was something that happened to us, right? Which basically means that for Magnus, Mark, and myself, we were first-time entrepreneurs. This was the first time that we built a company. And we essentially learned the ropes over time, which also meant that as the team grew, the culture adapted based on that, right, which I think is the same thing that happens in most companies as they grow. I think for us though is we found ourselves in such a new situation that we didn’t think about these things practically.

So when I started PublicBeta, which is, by the way, interestingly enough, it’s the company that I shut down, it’s still the holding company to Conversio. I basically wrote down at least a set of values that I wanted to bring into a new business. And off of those values, I hired my first team members off of those values. And they are still present, I think, in the way we work today, but we’ve reworded them and they’ve evolved.

And I think the most important thing for me there was kind of the realization that the people in the business are going to be the most important, which, for example, has a very practical implication in I now hire almost exclusively based off of kind of who you are as a person, characteristics. Skills obviously gets you in the door for the interview, like, “Can you do this job?” “Yes.” Then the rest of it is all about who you are and how you can fit into that culture.

So that [inaudible 00:46:48]. But I think on a broader level and [inaudible 00:46:52] thing for me around culture is it’s become [inaudible 00:46:55]. There are so many things I think that we could do, for example. This is going to, again, sound very arrogant. We could probably increase our revenue like 50% within two months if we were willing to change our pricing and be more aggressive about that and charge more. But that’s something, for example, that would just be so counter to our values as a team.

Andrew: What value do you have that is against growing your revenue?

Adii: So I think firstly kind of being customer-centric. So we have five core values. One of them is we’re rebellious. And I think the thing for us there is just, “What would we really do with the money? And why do we need that versus sticking to something that we feel is more pure and getting there in six months’ time?” There’s no reason to try and really hack or accelerate that kind of growth curve.

So it’s not necessarily about not having the money, but it’s kind of saying that we built this thing to really help small business. And the way to help small business is to also charge not as little as possible, but charge as fairly as possible. And for the bulk of our customers, except for that odd customer that is always the first customer to e-mail on every Monday and it’s this kind of thread, the bulk of our customers at our current price point were profitable.

So there’s no reason for us to suddenly start kind of charging two or three X just because we could find customers that pay that. And that speaks to, for me, and that’s another one of our core values, just the honesty around these things. I think we could drive some level of scarcity in terms of saying, “We’re exclusive and you can’t get in unless you pay us hundreds of dollars a month.” The reality for us is our average revenue producer, for example, I think is $54 a month. So it’s just different, right? And those are the things, that’s what we’re passionate about. We’re passionate about that kind of customer, that small business.

Andrew: But don’t they churn more?

Adii: At the very small end yes, they do churn. I just feel like I was there once kind of before WooThemes. WooThemes admittedly was I found myself on a rocket ship not knowing what happened. But before that I had dabbled in a couple of projects where I was a student, I had very little disposable income. And I was the guy that didn’t have $19 to pay for software. So I understand how hard it is to get a start in life. And I just don’t want to exclude that kind of customer based off of pricing.

Andrew: What about this? And, by the way, I remember seeing those old articles. You wrote blog posts about how you’re going to make it this time, even before WooThemes. I went back to the Internet Archive, I found your blog post saying, “I think I’ve got an idea. I think I could finally make it work.” And I think you even set yourself up with like a 30-day sprint.

And there are two people who stand out for me whose personal blog post stood out for me when I researched them. You, and then the other one is Andrew Mason from Groupon, because Andrew Mason from Groupon had the wackiest blog post. He would go watch an episode of “Lost,” the TV show, and then do a video of himself basically in his underwear talking about what he saw. And he also was obsessive about comments. Like in the early days of Groupon he’d go into the comments of TechCrunch and he’d have to explain to people why this was going to work and how this made sense. It was really fascinating.

You told our producer, “Even for marketing ideas before we go and act on them I have to have a long discussion with my team to see whether this marketing idea is going to fit with our values.” Give me a specific.

Adii: You put me on the spot here.

Andrew: I guess I could see a lot of marketing techniques that just wouldn’t make sense for you, but is there one that you feel especially resistant to?

Adii: Well, so one thing that we’ve changed, for example, is the voice and tone of all our messaging, right? So we try to never speak in the negative anymore, which is we won’t tell you kind of, “You’re missing out on X,Y, Z. That’s why you should use our software.” We sell you on the actual value. We just tell you, “Here’s this thing. This is what it can do for you.”

So, again, it’s almost like we’re not trying to drive artificial scarcity or this existential threat. I think most businesses have enough threats and challenges in their lives that we don’t have to add to that. And, again, I understand that works. There’s, for example, so many kind of studies that shows negative copy in the e-mail subject, like a question or something, that will generally get better engagement, right? So we know these things work psychologically. Whatever the reason is, it works. But, again, for us, that’s just not something that sits well with us.

Andrew: And so where do you write these values, and how do you make sure that you guys stick with them?

Adii: By having those debates about most decisions.

Andrew: The debates are what reinforce the value. So then do you write them down? Are they on your wall? I don’t see them on your site.

Adii: So I’m redoing my office. I think I have a poster that is stashed away. So the five core values are essentially [inaudible 00:52:28]. And we’re not as well set up as the likes of Buffer and HubSpot, I think, who’ve done really well in terms of writing out their culture codes. But our values are basically honesty, rebellion, curiosity, independence. And why am I forgetting the last one?

Andrew: Because it’s not on your wall.

Adii: It’s not on my wall, that’s right.

Andrew: Let me ask you about rebellion. How do you make sure that you guys are still rebels? You’re part of the establishment now.

Adii: Yeah, so by charging what we do. The value proposition, right? Is the fact that we’re an all-in-one dashboard, which basically means we’re putting a whole bunch of separate tools that people use and we’re putting them into one dashboard. So in many of those cases we have simpler tools, it’s not as advanced because we’re just not there yet. For the vast majority of our customers they can probably cut two or three other tools from [inaudible 00:53:26] at a cost saving. Right? So that, in my world, is fiercely very rebellious.

The second thing that kind of has pros and cons, which we felt is the fact that we base our pricing on order volume of the store. Right? Which basically means that if a store’s order volume goes down because they have a stock problem, inventory problem, which has nothing to do with us, they pay us less. We automatically [inaudible 00:53:50] and we issue kind of prorated credits in the same way that kind of Slack does for an inactive user.

Andrew: I saw you wrote a blog post about it. You said, “Hey, look. Slack just sent me this message saying that I’m getting,” I think it was like, “$1.04 back because one user wasn’t using our Slack account.” And so they’re refunding the money and you want to do the same thing.

Adii: Exactly. So we do that. If you sign up to a higher plan and you don’t use those credits or kind of you don’t need that level, we’ll [inaudible 00:54:18] and we’ll issue a credit for the next month.

So those are things that, and as I said, that’s very unlike … If you take e-mail marketing, for example, all of the big players do some kind of variation where they charge you based on contacts or subscribers in your list. And, again, this is not meant as criticism, but over time, like you know, your e-mail list has grown significantly …

Andrew: I will criticize it. I’m going to criticize AWeber. I think I’ve said this publically. And if not, I’ll say it now. AWeber charges for every e-mail in a database. And so you say, “Okay, great. I have 70,000 people,” that’s what we had before we left, and something like 10,000 unsubscribes over the years. So they’re charging me for the 10,000 people who unsubscribed, which I can’t e-mail them. I’m not allowed to e-mail them. I’m keeping them in the system so that we know now to e-mail them, and you guys are charging me per use because that’s what your fakakta system decided to do years ago? And it makes no freaking sense, and you’re right, there are a lot of people who do that, who don’t do it based on value, they do it based on negative value almost.
Adii: Well, exactly. It’s almost punitive in that sense. As the business grows, their e-mail lists are going to grow. But the reality is the e-mail subscriber that you acquired in the first year is probably less engaged, right? So even though you can send them e-mail, like your utility value is still the same for every one of those recipients, but kind of the value goes down over time.

So I think we’ve been rebellious in that sense where we’re one of the only people that I know of that uses this pricing and it’s punitive. Like after we see this big spike kind of October, November, December, like peak retail, and then we had very slow growth. So when I first spoke to your producers, for example, I think it was two and a half months ago, they asked me what’s our revenue number and I said $2 million ARR. That’s why we’re still there. We’ve had flat growth just based off of that. We have more users, more paying customers than we did two and a half months ago, but our revenue growth has been flat because our users have lower retail volume.

Andrew: Right, because we’re recording this in the spring and spring and summer aren’t nearly as strong as Christmastime, for example.

Adii: Exactly.

Andrew: All right, let me close it out with three areas that we have to run through quickly just to get in there. The first is I’m on your site right now in one of my many, many tabs, and I see all the different tools that you guys have. You do receipts, abandoned follow-ups. So if someone starts buying but then they leave, you guys can e-mail them back. Follow-up, newsletters, you do feedback, search, recommendations, reviews. So how did you know what to create? What’s your process figuring that out?

Adii: Copying what everyone else is doing.

Andrew: Really? So you’re just saying, “What’s out there? And we can build it, too, into our tool.” Are you looking for standalone tools and then bringing them in?

Adii: Some of them are. Like if you take e-mail marketing, you’ll find that on e-mail marketing most tools will do multiple of those, if not all of them. But yeah. So we’re basically looking at where it makes sense for us and where we kind of have synergies or where it makes kind of some kind of interplay between individual tools. So that’s why we would add another tool.

Andrew: Is there a process, like going into the app store on Shopify and seeing what gets high ratings that you could build?

Adii: I think that’s part of it, but there’s also e-commerce luckily isn’t a new space anymore. So how to do e-commerce marketing, there’s a lot of best practices out there about where to interact with customers and how. And I think it’s mostly not rocket science. It’s mostly obvious which tools you need to use to run, for example, a million-dollar-a-year e-commerce store. So we’re basically at that stage still just building those tools that most e-commerce stores need.

Andrew: I was looking to see where you got your users. And it seems like the app store, the Shopify app store, is number one for you, right? What else do you do to get new customers?

Adii: So we do content marketing. That’s the only other channel that’s driving…

Andrew: I like that your blog is called the Academy. So if I want to go read your post and learn, I hate the word “blog” now, the “Academy” is so much better. All right, so that works for you guys too. What about this? Do your tools have any kind of viral loop in them? I don’t remember seeing that.

Adii: So it should have. All of our widgets, so widgets you can use on the site, have “powered by Conversio.” And if you’re using the receipts for free, it will also have a logo at the bottom. But surprisingly and unfortunately it doesn’t drive any significant traffic and almost non-existent kind of users, which makes sense because we’re also mostly selling to consumers. Right?

Andrew: Ah, yeah.

Adii: So if it was a B to B to B loop, then kind of almost the word of mouth loop and the viral loop is thus smaller. So I would imagine that it would work better, but we’re probably too diverse in that sense for it to work.

Andrew: You don’t have features that are on the site, kind of like I’ve been using Proof lately. When someone comes to our order page, they could see these little bubbles with everyone who’s bought, you see their face and so on, but they also brand it with their name Proof. And so if you click on that, you get brought to their site and hopefully you install it. You guys don’t have any on-site marketing?

Adii: We do, but we just allow you to switch that off, for example.

Andrew: You do or you don’t?

Adii: We do.

Andrew: I see. Oh, so there’s no forced marketing for you. I see, okay. And that’s because of your values.

Adii: Well, yeah.

Andrew: All right, final thing is you’ve said that you’re resisting revenue at times. You’ve said that you’re deciding not to go the venture capital route. It seems easy when we talk about it, but you also told our producer, “You know what? Honestly, I do have to wrestle with this.” Can you talk about, a little bit, that wrestling match internally that you have to go through between your ambition, which is big, and your desire to see your kids, which is also big?

Adii: Yeah. So I guess this ties in a lot with my mindfulness. So I stumbled into mindfulness about 18 months ago now, and it’s completely transformed my life. I won’t go into the whole thing, but where I sit today in terms of an entrepreneur is there’s always this challenge … So what mindfulness teaches you is to be in the present and to be able to enjoy this moment. Whereas most of entrepreneurship and at least ambition, at least the way I’ve been taught to apply it, is very kind of beyond this moment, right? It’s not about being here and being content, for example. It’s about figuring out what I can do tomorrow and next week and next year that will get me to this goal.

And that’s this thing that I’m still not clear about. I think I’ve gotten much better at enjoying the journey and not just trying to go from point A to B to C. And my kids, for example, my family life has played a significant part in that. But yeah. And it’s a bit of a non-duality thing, like I know that both of these things exist. I don’t have a clear answer in terms of how it’s going to play out.

Andrew: What do you do to bring yourself back and keep yourself from doubting yourself?

Adii: Mostly just trying to do good work today and good work this week. And what I mean with good work is, yes, there’s a sense of productivity and efficiency in that, but work that aligns with our values. So as long as I have the sense that we’re doing good work that aligns with our values today, in this moment essentially, I trust and believe that the bigger picture will just play out. And not in a kind of naive way, but I believe that doing this today puts those building blocks in place for us to then move towards the bigger picture.

Andrew: Yeah. Dale Carnegie is known for writing the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” but he also wrote a book about mindset, but it was called “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.” It had one of these self-improvementy direct marketing type titles. But when I worked for Dale Carnegie, the company, I remember them saying that what helps people is to live in day-tight compartments, that was the phrase. So just think about how you can do good work today and try to keep your mind off of the problem that you’re anticipating tomorrow, and it will allow you to be more present and more productive. And it seems like that’s what you’re doing.

Phenomenal, phenomenal to have you back on here. I see your growth here. As I said, I used to look at your blog post where you said, “I think I want to do this. I think we’re going to be able to do that.” And you had this very arrogant … Rockstar, Adii Rockstar was your online name. Today I am on Not only do I see much, much less written on here, I think the last time you really wrote here was about three years ago and most of your content is now on Medium or the product of your website, Conversio. But also the headline of your personal site is “Making New Mistakes.” So there’s much more.

And I talked to Jason Calacanis about this. I feel he’s a much more humble person right now, which puts him in a different place. He says he’s still a fighter, which I don’t doubt, but I think he’s gotten much more samurai warrior and much less MMA fighter. You know?

Adii: Yeah.

Andrew: And I think that’s what’s happening with you.

All right, the website is Conversio. If you guys have an e-commerce site, you should go check him out. In fact, if you’re just in business at all, you should just go see what Adii is doing. I think that he’s one of those guys who’s just constantly creating interesting things and talking about it in ways that are very open and interesting.

I’m proud to have you back on here for a fourth time, and I’m appreciative of the two sponsors who helped make it happen. The first is the company that hosts my new site, it’s called HostGator. Check them out at And the second is the company that we used when we wanted to hire new developers, it’s called Toptal. Check them out at

Adii, good to have you back.

Adii: Thanks for having me, Andrew.

Andrew: Thanks. Bye.

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